2016 has been quite a year for Swiss avant-garde black metal band Schammasch: They released their impressive 3-in-1 albums opus 'Triangle' and went on European tour with Inquisition and Rotting Christ. To top it all off, at the end of the year they announced an exclusive, 110-minute long set at Roadburn Festival 2017 in Het Patronaat church where they will perform 'Triangle' in its entirety, making this possibly the only chance ever hear 'The Supernal Clear Light of the Void performed live. Certainly enough material to have an in-depth chat on the band, the album, the future and the universe and beyond with Schammasch mastermind C.S.R.
First things first, so we started at the beginning in this part of the interview, scratching and breaking through the surface of Schammasch and 'Triangle' to later dive deeper into the matter.
The Metal Phenomenon: How did the idea of Schammasch come about?
C.S.R: Schammasch was the outcome of a former band which split up in 2008. I asked B. to join me again for a new project and we started to work on some stuff. It developed quite quickly.
TMP: What does Schammasch mean to you?
C.S.R: To me it is much more than just a band. It is my portal to the spirit world, to put it in an esoteric way. It's the dimension which allows me to channel my creative energy and a personal mirror, a very powerful tool for self-reflection, which helps me to grow as a human being and finding peace. Schammasch is always on my mind, no matter what I'm doing or where I am, it's always there. And besides that, the involved people are like a family to me.
TMP: How did you go about turning the idea of Schammasch into reality?
C.S.R: It evolved step by step and still does. To me Schammasch ever since felt like a living, pulsating organism with many different branches and roots reaching deeply into the earth, growing stronger and reaching further every day. At the beginning, I was quite uncertain about what Schammasch will become, I just let it evolve, and that's what it did. There are still many aspects which couldn’t be realised yet, ideas that have been in my head, some of them for a long time, which demand a lot of money or other lacking resources. I’m trying to realise these more and more.
TMP: How much of yourself, your views, your philosophies are in Schammasch?
C.S.R: All my intellectual parts are channeled into Schammasch. My views on humanity, on the individual, and also religious, artistic and cosmic ideas are all part of that. Furthermore, Schammasch is and always will be bound to aestheticism and elegance, which is quite important to me.
We all know each other since over 10 years. We as a band influenced each other's views on things a lot over the years I'd say. We all have different views on certain things but also respect each other's views and beliefs for the biggest part. When it comes to the core points of the ideas behind Schammasch, I'm certain that we all deeply share them nowadays.
Schammasch (Photo by Ester Segarra)
TMP: How did the writing and recording process of Triangle go?
C.S.R: It took about two years from when I started it. As one can imagine it was a long, difficult and often painful process with countless ups and downs. I can’t recount how many times I doubted the realization of “The Supernal Clear Light..” for example. With a concept like this you can easily get swallowed by doubts, lose faith or drift apart completely and it’s very hard to keep a clear view over the whole thing. Although these things are the artist’s daily bread and you have to learn how to handle them properly. I learned a lot about my process of creating art during the writing process of Triangle, it helped me relying on myself and trusting in my abilities to get it right in the end.
TMP: The visuals of Triangle are quite different to the two previous releases, to many metal albums in general. Why did you take this aesthetic route?
C.S.R: For one part exactly because of that reason, because they are different to most Metal artwork. I wanted something timeless, classy, something standalone which isn’t bound to anything else but the album itself, meaning to anything genre-related. It should be something menacing, but also something beautiful and pure, as the album as a whole is a reflection on the light of eternity, the purity of the spirit.
Triangle artwork by Ester Segarra
Latest news and everything else can be found on Schammasch's website.
Read part II and III of the interview here.